Reading to, with and by: a school library supporting a whole school approach to literacy.[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]
'Recreational reading or reading for pleasure is the major source of our reading competence, our vocabulary, and our ability to handle complex grammatical constructions' (Krashen, 2004, np).
Our school is a Literacy and Numeracy Partnership school and as such we have a focus on reading. We also have a Literacy Coach. There is a strong link between the Region's Literacy Coaches and ALEA. All schools had been reviewing their approaches to reading. And this article documents how a highly functioning library contributes to a whole-school Literacy program.
New BER Library Senior Campus Mackay West State School
The teaching and learning of reading is a core priority in schools across the Central Queensland Region. Our school, Mackay West State School (along with other schools in the Region) has adopted a whole school approach to reading. It is called Reading to, With and By. This program has three important elements:
Reading By Children
Reading To Children
Reading With Children.
The program aims to develop fluent, confident, competent readers who are willing to read more and read more widely during their school years. The five aspects of reading guide our reading program: fluency, vocabulary, knowledge of texts, knowledge of the world and active comprehension strategies. In order to prepare for the implementation of the Australian Curriculum: English (ACE) we are currently working in five-week units. The ACE has as a key reading goal: accurate and purposeful reading within and across learning areas. This report was prepared for the five week segment called Reading By and was designed to clearly show how effective the library is in supporting a whole-school reading program.
It is underpinned by the following beliefs:
* Regular borrowing sessions actively encourage, support and promote reading.
* Regular borrowing assists in the development of fluency, vocabulary, comprehension and knowledge of the world
As such, opportunities are provided to use the library in a range of ways:
* EVERY class borrows weekly
* Reading By is actively discussed and promoted with students and teachers
* Borrowing statistics are provided regularly to teachers to target /encourage those who are not actively engaged in Reading By
* The library is open during break times for student borrowing
* Parents/caregivers/grandparents are encouraged to visit the library with their children
* Reading By sessions are actively modelled during library time and very clear expectations established for student reading
It is important for children to have access to a range of literature of high interest and is age appropriate in terms of reading ability. Individual students need to be actively engaged by the choice of literature available. There are many ways the library staff members provide resources of high interest matched to ability to our students.
For Example ...
... Just as public libraries have utilised the Book Request for many years, Mackay West PS has made Book Request forms are available to all students (and staff) to encourage reading of material of interest. This helps achieve the Reading By goal of developing confident readers. It is important that students have a sense of ownership of their Library's collection. Students get their ideas from a variety of sources. They might have seen the book at a friend's place, heard about it from the media or it could be the next in a series they are currently reading.
... Bookfairs run by staff and parent volunteers are held annually at both Junior and Senior campus libraries. Brochures go home the week before detailing opening times and other details. The School newsletter communicates how commission earned on sales is then used for the acquisition of new resources. In 2011 Bookfair commission enabled the purchase of more than $3000 of new resources, a most valuable contribution in an era of shrinking library budgets. During the Bookfair we invite student feedback about most popular titles.
... Student participation in author visits is the domain of Mackay West Library. At school we have had visits from Phil Kettle, 2011, Michael Salmon, 2010 and Mark Svendsen, 2010. We have also taken students to the Mackay City Library for an author's session with Phil Kettle and Kim Michelle Toft. All our authors speak about the importance of reading, again supporting the school's Reading By strategy. The authors also detail their own writing processes, providing invaluable advice for young writers.
Tia, Year 5 explains:
Phil Kettle had an interesting childhood. I loved the way in which he told us these stories. He taught us all many new methods for planning and made story writing more interesting
... We promote participation in Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival, held in Mackay, Queensland. Over 5000 students from Years 1 to 12 from all over Queensland attend this two day event. The Festival, currently in its 9th year, continues to attract high profile guest authors, illustrators, poets, cartoonists and playwrights. In 2011 they presented over 64 student talks, performances, panels and discussions. At Mackay West, 200 students attended author talks with Glenda Millard, Narelle Oliver, Justin D'Ath and Ruben Meerman. Interestingly, following the Ruben Meerman science display, a Year 6 student completed a Book Request for the purchase of his books on science experiments!
Through their student sessions these well-known authors, illustrators and presenters always emphasise the value of good literacy skills and how these skills can only be acquired through practice. Authors frequently read from their books, as did Justin D'Ath and Glenda Millard in 2011, and in discussion reinforce the power of Reading By. Because the Library facilitates student attendance it directly supports the whole school approach to reading. Students who attend these festivals are often inspired to read the work of a different author, thus extending their range of reading. Our students relish the opportunity to see some of Australia's best authors. A regional centre such as Mackay has very few opportunities to experience visiting authors.
Some comments from students,
I loved meeting the authors. It was exciting to see the people who wrote the books I like to read. Like Justin D'ath (Aston, Year 7)
Reuben Meerman was very exciting to me. His science experiments were great. I'm glad the Library has bought his books (Bailey, Year 7)
The authors were funny and entertaining (Amber, Year 7)
It is vital to create a welcoming, encouraging and supportive physical reading environment. Students must feel supported in their reading activities. At our school, the students have commented on the library in the following ways:
Friendly, kind and helpful The library is always a good place to come, reading or not Especially a good place to read I like the selection of books I like being able to place requests for books
The library has a variety of alternative strategies to encourage Reading By:
* We promote/encourage/support/act as editor for writing competitions. Students bring a first draft and then we work co-operatively towards a final draft. In 2011 we were involved in the following:
** Whitsunday Voices Short Story Competition. Our student Julia Keltie won Years 5/6 award and another, Cody Walker, was runner-up.
** Wakakirri Short Story Competition. Our student Meghan Malone was Runner-up for Years 5/6. Her mother commented,
Thanks again for your help with Meg's story and encouraging her to write. I had no idea the Wakakirri Short Story Competition was even an option. If you hadn't mentioned it and encouraged Meghan to enter, we would all be still in the dark.
** Morris Gleitzman Short Story Competition. Morris Gleitzman is one of our library's most popular authors. Students were very excited to read a new title, Pizza Cakes.
* We publish student short stories in the school newsletter to celebrate student success and to inspire other students to write.
* We promote a wide range of literacy issues from the importance of reading aloud to providing lists of recommended titles.
* We support teachers' reading programs through recommendations and searches
* We promote participation in special reading events Australia wide such as National Simultaneous Story Time.
* We engage with other school sectors, such as Learning Support and our Special Education Unit to assist with the acquisition of new resources
The 2012 National Year of Reading is another area where we expect to work collaboratively and co-operatively with Mackay Regional Council Libraries. Our planning has already started!
It is important that the library's approach to reading is consistent with the whole school approach. For Mackay West State School, this means Reading to, With and By. School libraries such as Mackay West are invaluable resources for teachers and learners alike.
Krashen, S. (2004). Free Voluntary reading: New Research, Applications, and Controversies Presented at PAC5 (Pan-Asian Conference), Vladivostok, Russia, Available at: http://www.sdkrashen.com/articles/pac5/index.html.
Margaret Spillman is the Teacher-Librarian at Mackay West State School. With an enrolment of 860 students, it is located on three Campuses: Prep, Junior Campus and Senior Campus. Mackay West is the largest primary school in the Mackay District. Margaret is an Experienced Senior Teacher who has been Teacher Librarian at Mackay West for thirteen years. She values teaching in a school community with a strong commitment to libraries.
Apart from her obvious interest in literacy she is passionate about two other issues. The first is advocacy, hence her membership of The Hub (http://hubinfo.wordpress.com/). Her other long term interest is promoting co-operative and collaborative relationships between school and public libraries with a program called Productive Partnerships Learning for Life. Last year she was invited to the Brisbane sittings of the Parliamentary Inquiry into School Libraries to speak about her work in this area. This was a wonderful opportunity to advocate for school and public library co-operation and the promotion of partnerships. email@example.com